All posts for the month August, 2013

If I like an application or see one with potential, I usually write the author or company that made it with a feature suggestion explaining why I want to do it, and how it would add value to an application — sometimes a great amount of value. Occasionally, I’ll receive a human written response that explains upcoming features along those line, says they’ll consider it, or explains some technical limitation. Either way, I will have to wait months if not years to see a feature added if it is ever added at all. I appreciate the feedback to my feedback. It lets me know the company or individual is receptive to comments.

One of the things I cannot stand is when a company sends me is an automated reply thanking me for the feedback. Big companies, I forgive slightly more, but small shops should probably take a minute to let users know their breath wasn’t wasted if they want to foster a good relationship with their customers.

After a programmer makes a great app, their next challenge is getting the word out. Unfortunately engineers tend to think differently than mere mortals: in general, the more brilliant an engineer the less likely they are to have the social skills to market their great apps, I have found.

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Instead of your usual complain-o-train-o-thought, I thought I would take a minute to mention a few apps I use on my iOS devices routinely to get things done. Now, even if you aren’t a developer or a tech, some of these are great for everyone.

My first nod goes to Pastebot, which I probably mentioned before. It allows you to copy and paste between your iOS device and your Mac via WiFi. And interestingly enough, if you have 2 Pastebot iOS clients running, they can see each other if there is a Mac they are both linked to. If only they could see each other on there own, this would be even better for things like addresses your S.O. has to usually send via text message.

Evernote has been on the upswing in use lately as well: the ability to sync notes between all your devices and share them with others is great. I signed up for a paid account to allow others to actually edit my notes. It works pretty well, although I wish they would handle collisions more gracefully.

If you are on, hAppy is my favorite client there. It’s patter room integration (think IRC styled chat) and clean look make it my first choice client.

In case you are the indecisive one, there is an app called Decide Now! that allows you to construct a wheel of fortune where you enter up to 20 items then spin the wheel to see what comes up. My girlfriend and I occasionally use it to pick a restaurant to go to: South Paw, Old Jerusalem, Zante Pizza, Mioshi, Alborz, Streat Food… what will it be tonight?

And for scheduling, I prefer Fantasical (on both iOS and the OS X). Sure the built in calendar works, but Fantasical uses natural language such as “Meet Lisa noon to 2 at Just For You.” Even better, if you have a date and time in your clipboard when you open Fantasical on iOS it will offer to create an event for it.

1Password for iOS is a must if you have 1Password on any other device, and you should be using a password manager in case you aren’t.

My Browser of choice on iOS is Mercury. Fast, elegant, easy tabbed interface. About the only thing I could ask for is 1Password integration & the ability to copy links to the clipboard (for Pastebot).

When I have to feed a meter, I use Parkbud to keep track of my time there. It takes second to set the meter using either a dial or a 10-key, and has a configurable reminder you set to 3 or 5 or {whatever} minutes (either globally or per session)  so you don’t get back to you car with a ticket. Also you can put a pin on the map where you parked and take a picture of the meter number in case you have to phone in additional minutes.

If you have a DynamicDNS account, FreeDNS makes it easy to update the service with wherever you are at. This is only important if you use domain names as part of your net security.

To look at the TV schedule I prefer TitanTV because you can set multiple locations and switch between them easily, without having to go through setup each time like TVBuddy makes you do. This is a simply feature TVBuddy refuses to add, and why I deleted them off my phone.

Like TV but don’t have time to catch your favorites? Hulu+ to the rescue (as long as the show isn’t on TBS, CBS or some other *BS station). It’s low monthly rate of $8 makes it a lot easier to stay current and find back episodes of shows rather than have to either wait 6 months for the season DVDs or search for bit torrents to download, and risk the dreaded “Copyright violation” warning letter from you ISP. (Comcast loves handing them out to cafés and other public WiFi establishments even if they are on business class, and the comcast boxes don’t allow café to control who downloads what from where.)

But when I am not blocking ports, one of my favorite things is listening to music, but where Pandora seems to sit in a rut (another 20 year old song) or go completely off the rails (“Just-a-douche Beeber? Does Pandora think I’m a 12 year old?”) , there is Discovr Music. It’s graphic node-based music discovery makes the act of finding new artists fun. It links to the web to play music and videos from various services as well. If you prefer artists that know that you’re supposed to use a toilet and not a mop bucket in a restaurant kitchen and artists who aren’t amateur drinkers, check it out.

In case you just want to listen to your music, I would just grab TraktorDJ and call it a day. Plus playlists sync between it and the full blown Traktor. Sure there are other good to great DJ apps, but this one feature makes putting together a playlist something you can do in bed.

In case you don’t have enough to buy this September, there is also GiftPlanner: a way to remember gifts for that someone special, even if that someone is you. you can categorize gifts by person, price, or date, and keep it secret from his or her prying eyes with a 4 digit passcode (I prefer the last 4 of Pi). If you have a URL on the clipboard it will offer to import the item and the image. If it is in meatspace, you can take a picture of it as well. Then you can track the progress from “Saving for it” to “ordered,” “delivered,” “wrapped” and finally “given.” Trust me, doing it this way (sneakily taking a note when something catches your S.O.’s eye) prevent step six: “returned and S.O. points loss.”

Okay, so this time I only covered general purpose apps. Maybe next I will get into more developer, tech oriented things. Thanks for reading.